My Alaskan Malamute seems so hot and miserable in the summer. Should I have her shaved?
You’re right to be concerned about your dog’s comfort during hot weather. Northern breeds with thick fur like Malamutes and Huskies were developed for cold climates, not the 90 and even 100 degree weather some areas experience in the summer. However, some hair can be beneficial in hot weather, working to insulate dogs from the heat and shield their skin from the sun. Remember, dogs don’t use sweat to cool themselves the way people do, so they don’t need to have exposed skin in order to stay cool.
That being said, if a dog has too much hair, the hair can stop being beneficial in hot weather and start retaining too much heat. You may be able to thin the coat out enough by brushing your dog thoroughly and consistently with a wire or "rake" type brush designed for heavy-coated breeds. These brushes can remove some of the fuzzy undercoat layer of fur, sometimes enough to make dogs comfortable in warm weather. If she still seems too hot, shaving won’t hurt her a bit. Just be careful to leave an inch or so of fur so that she still has some insulation and protection from sunburn.
Even if your dog is shaved, you’ll want to be careful with her when temperatures get really high. Don’t leave her in a parked car or leave her outside unsupervised for long periods of time. When she’s outdoors, she needs shade and plenty of water. Some people buy the drip-system "mister" hoses used to water plants and set them out for their dogs on hot days.
You can even freeze water bottles full of water and put them where she lies to keep her cool. And, as with any dog, watch for signs of heatstroke. If your dog is panting, has a staring or anxious expression, does not obey commands, has warm, dry skin, a high fever, and a rapid heartbeat or is vomiting, lower her body temperature quickly with cool water--either by immersion or by spraying thoroughly with a garden hose--and call your veterinarian immediately.